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The First Night Off of Caeriel Island

By Caeriel Crestin
photo by Warren Henderson

Saturday was our opening night of The International Improv Experience.

I was floored.

This show is a collaboration with improvisers from all over the world. These generous and excellent people put in time, energy, humor and creativity to film video challenges for us to interpret and perform on stage in front of a live audience.

We’d never done the show before opening night. We’d done run-throughs and such, sure, but always with some bullshit we made up to stand in for the actual videos, where we’d just stand on stage and pretend to be a video from such-and-such place we’d possibly visited once (or frequently in my case, “Caeriel Island” a possibly imaginary place I know rather well.) We were flying blind because having never seen an actual video sent from foreign improvisers, we could only imagine the kinds of things they’d send us, and of course our imaginations fell short of the wonderful reality.

Other people are great.

video still from The Osaka Improv Gathering

So when we finally got to do the show and see some of the actual videos we got sent, it was inspiring, shocking, delightful, and for me, kind of spiritual. I’ve never met any of these people. Yet they went out of their way to create something insanely fun for me (and the rest of us in the cast) to do! How cool is that??

I’m tearing up a little because if that wasn’t delightful enough in and of itself, I also felt this incredible sense of community, because I knew that all these people have this funny part of their brain that is similar to a funny part of my brain, that they all probably share a pretty similar approach not just to being on stage, but to life and other people. A willingness to play along. To co-create. To say, “Yes and…!”

I’ve been part of various communities: queers (and specifically radical faeries), pedicabbers, nerds, gamers, and so on. But I’ve never quite felt that peculiar and profound sense of kinship—“These people are like me! I can trust them in a very particular and amazing way just because of this thing we all do.”

video still from JadaJada Improv in Tampere, Finland

To me, that is a brand-new feeling. It’s profound and just plain awesome. I feel lucky to be part of this show, lucky to be part of the Austin community, and lucky to be connected to this even larger community that spans languages, cultures, and continents. So. Fucking. Cool.

The International Improv Experience runs every Saturday at 8pm in July and August of 2014. Get tickets here.

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The 45 Hour Improv Marathon Couples Podcast

The 45 Hour Improv Marathon is about to happen. June 20th-22nd, in fact!

This year two couples are in the Marathon: Newlyweds Ruby & Troy, and Rachel & Dave.

The recently met up at The Dog and Duck Pub to discuss relationship tips, and their hopes & fears with regards to the Marathon.

It’s short and sweet. Give it a listen.

The 45 Hour Improv Marathon runs from 5pm, Friday June 20th – 2pm, Sunday, June 22nd. The schedule, tickets and passes are here.

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Here Comes The Sun- Ceej Allen on the Improv Marathon

By Ceej Allen

After the marathon I slept for fourteen hours. When I woke up at 7:30 am my back was sore. I popped some ibuprofen, guzzled some water and sat myself on the front porch rocking chair. The Monday morning world was there to greet me. That’s when it hit me.

Colors. Green leaves and grass. The majestically purple blossoms in the trees. The white tips of feathers on a (docile) mockingbird flying by. The deeply rich maroon of my car. A city street construction worker walked up to me and handed me an orange pamphlet. I will never forget that orange. Everything around me seemed new and fresh.

Improv is often described as a being like a drug; when an improviser is so comfortable in a scene that he almost gets lost in it. The subconscious sort of bubbling up into the scene. Euphoric. I’ve felt this many times. A scene finishes and you realize that you were just performing a scene. It’s like the scene is a snow globe. You turn it over and set it upright. All of the snow is subconscious material falling slowly back to the ground. Back to reality. And aftewards you are like, “Hey, looks like it snowed.”

Doing forty-fours of improv shows in a row without sleep (except for a few five-minute torture naps) and then collapsing into coma-like sleep for fourteen hours is an overdose of this drug. Either I took a lot of snow globes last weekend or there was a blizzard. But it is a good overdose, if that is possible.

The marathon was such an amazing life-changing time. I can’t wait for next year. To play in a few shows. To support the next batch of marathoners. To witness as much of the insanity as I can. It’s gonna be really neat. Looking back into that gigantic snow globe from the outside. I know I’m gonna fall in love with improv all over again like I did at this year’s marathon.

And now, a year later, Ceej shares his words of wisdom for this players this year:

Here are some tips for this year’s core cast:
PACK WELL. Changes of clothing, a pillow and a blanket, toiletries, pain relief meds (just in case), anything you think you will need… bring it!

FRESHEN UP. Brush your teeth and/or gargle mouthwash. Change your undies and socks every now and then. Use deodorant. All of these will make you feel better and be a blessing to your partners in crime.

REST. Sit or lie down between shows. Nap or not depending on your needs and how your body works. You will have ten to fifteen minutes between shows. Use this time wisely!

EAT AND DRINK WISELY. Between meals I chose to snack on healthy foods and drink lots of water. Yes, I did eat sweets every now and then. Yes, I drank some caffeinated beverages, but very few. Whatever works for you. Hopefully you will get fruit smoothies in the homestretch like we did when I played. GODSEND! ENERGY! BLISS!

SUPPORT. There are so many people supporting you. Getting you food and drinks. Giving massages. Waiting on you with the biggest “yes ands…” If you ever feel totally worn-out, think about your core audience supporters. Watching forty-five hours is just as hard, if not harder, than performing it.

TRUST IN IMPROV. You are not expected to perform great improv. You do not even have to worry about being good. You have seven other players as well as MANY guest performers. You will ride waves of amazing work and subpar work. Everyone will. When you least expect it, even when you find yourself exhausted, some amazing things will come from you. TRUST ME!

LOVE EACH OTHER. We called ourselves “Romans” (thanks, Jessica) and before every show we put our hands in a center ring and said, “One, two, three… Romans!” We still call each other Romans whenever we see each other. Also (this came from the previous year’s marathoners courtesy of Marc Majcher) we would say, “I still like you” before every show You’d be amazed how something this simple makes life better. Give yourselves a name and like each other. After all, you are doing something you love very much. And, you will see, it loves you back.

The 45 Hour Improv Marathon runs from 5pm, Friday June 20th – 2pm, Sunday, June 22nd. The schedule, tickets and passes are here.

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